Exclusive interview: Chris Potamitis of “Empire State,” who as a young man took part in the largest cash robbery in US history, talks to Greek Reporter about the real events of the heist, the jail time he faced, and his life today after he co-produced the famous film starring Liam Hemsworth and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
The film Empire State chronicles the facts of the real-life heist which resulted in the theft of $11 million from the deposits of the Sentry armored company in New York City in 1982. Potamitis, after spending nine years in jail, decided to make a movie about his life and the robbery to show that “people make mistakes and they pay for them.”
Potamitis co-wrote the script and is also a producer of the movie, which stars Liam Hemsworth alongside Mike Angarano, Emma Roberts, Dwayne Johnson, Nikki Reed, Chris Diamantopoulos and others.
It’s hard to believe that Chris Potamitis committed such a serious crime when you meet him today. The Greek-American businessman and film producer looks more like a kind giant who does not hide his past, and he keeps repeating that he did it “without thinking of the consequences. I am not proud of it.”
That night, Chris was the only guard at Sentry and helped three other Greek-Americans to enter the building and steal the money. They were arrested only two months later when a conspirator broke down and gave them up to the police.
Watch the exclusive interview below:
Chris Potamitis was born in Sparta and immigrated with his family to the USA as a child in 1966. They resided in New York City, and young Chris lived through the tough years of NYC where crime was a daily routine and, for some people, even an act of glory. As he says during our interview, “My dad could not even afford to buy me a bicycle.”
As Chris got older, he found himself surrounded by “the wrong people” as he calls them. A teenager then, Potamitis could not imagine that the path he had chosen would lead him to prison for many years. He stayed in jail for nine years, and with the help of his family, he once again became part of society. Today, he has a business and lives in New York City with his wife and their three children.
Chris is never quiet about his past and he does not try to hide it, as do others who have done jail time. After he was released, he decided to write a script about his life and the robbery, to show the world that sometimes we have the power to turn our mistakes into something positive.
“Yes I feel redemption and you can definitely see it in the movie,” says Potamitis during our exclusive interview.
He admits that in the beginning it was hard to make the movie and grab people’s attention, but eight years later, Empire State stayed in the top 10 DVD charts for months. Now, he has plans for more movies that he plans to make in the near future.
Empire State is a drama centered on two childhood friends who plan to rob the armored car depository, and the NYPD officer who stands in their way. Diamantopoulos portrays mob boss Spiro, who believes the two friends might be responsible for the caper, even though the rest of New York believes it was a major criminal conspiracy by the Italian mafia.